Hong Kong & Macau
Before I started traveling to developing nations, I had heard that culture shock can be intense. What I’ve learned is that reverse culture shock is way more powerful. When you’re traveling somewhere new, you anticipate the unexpected. You’re waiting for the customs to surprise you and the traditions to challenge you, but you expect it. After living in Bangkok and traveling around Southeast Asia for six months, I was entirely unprepared to return to more “first world” places.
Fortunately, our study abroad semester had a week built in at the end to be spent in Hong Kong & Macau. The perfect in-between: Asia meets “first world.” We went to Disney Land, gambled at casinos in Macau, saw some of the Grand Prix, and went to two westernized festivals – one in Hong Kong & one in Macau. The trip helped us to slowly acclimate for our return stateside.
We also were all super broke at that point, so just walking around, going to Mount Victoria* to see the city from above, and watching the synchronized light show at night across from the Hong Kong skyline were fun, cheap ways to explore the city.
One thing I will never forget about being in Hong Kong was that we were there for the 2008 Presidential Election. Most of us had sent in ballots from abroad, but we saw Obama elected as America’s first black president just before we returned to the States. It was definitely a memorable moment in history and a unique place to experience such a monumental event.
*Several photos in this spread were taken by RIchard Marks